In a relatively short period of time, Vizor Software has earned a reputation as a trusted provider of technology to the world’s central banks and regulators. Founded as a consultancy in Dublin in 2000, it only began to invest more heavily in technology in 2011, but it already counts the Bank of England, the Bank of Canada and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority among its 30 clients. Over the past year, Vizor has proven its versatility in serving emerging market institutions, as well.
“Working with emerging market regulators can be very rewarding because the projects often have a very big impact, enabling central banks to take great strides in a very short period of time and even leapfrog their more established peers that can sometimes be reluctant to use external vendors,” says Ross Kelly, joint chief executive of Vizor.
Clients appreciate the company’s willingness to constantly review its offering and adapt to changing requirements. “Vizor is very flexible and easy to work with – they will bend over backwards to deliver our projects, and we have found them to be very good partners. They are constantly thinking of improvements that could be made to the technology to make it faster and cheaper,” says an official at one central bank.
In 2017, Brunei’s central bank, the Brunei Darussalam Monetary Authority (AMBD), implemented a centralised statistical system, developed by Vizor, to collect financial data from external entities. The selection of Vizor after a competitive tendering process in 2016 came just five years after the AMBD was established, as it recognised that it needed a modern, enterprise-wide regulatory system.
When Vizor’s staff evaluated the AMBD, they found that up to three days a month were being spent copying and pasting industry data submissions into Excel spreadsheets. Vizor identified four key areas that needed to be addressed: the tedious manual process that was occupying excessive staff resources; the high risk of errors in the data collection process; the poor visibility of data across business units; and the limited reporting functionality.
The new Vizor system allows data to be submitted and stored in a single location, reducing the need for manual intervention. Data can be quickly exported for further analysis as required, or shared between units of the AMBD in a much more efficient way. The project was completed in just eight months, prior to going live in mid-2017.
We have been able to deliver to the AMBD a game-changing system that cuts out the manual aspects of data collection, guarantees high-quality collections and automatically produces a high quality of reporting output
Ross Kelly, Vizor
“We have been able to deliver to the AMBD a game-changing system that cuts out the manual aspects of data collection, guarantees high-quality collections and automatically produces a high quality of reporting output. The project revolutionised the way they do data collection and analysis in a very short timeframe and at a comparatively low cost,” Kelly tells Central Banking.
Elsewhere, Vizor added Zambia’s Pensions and Insurance Authority (PIA) to its client base in 2017, marking its latest project in sub-Saharan Africa. Its technology also supports regulatory agencies in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Tanzania. Implementations in these developing countries often starts at a more basic level than they might for a Group of 20 central bank. In some cases, Vizor has had to build brand new servers to get a project off the ground.
This doesn’t necessarily lessen the eventual impact of the technology or the time it takes to implement, however, as institutions in emerging markets can sometimes be more committed and focused on the success of a new system than in developed markets, where projects may be complicated or delayed by large IT teams and cumbersome infrastructure.
Our experience in sub-Saharan Africa has broadly been very positive because we find the central banks and regulators are very committed to putting in an effective system and have fewer legacy issues to deal with than some of their peers
Ross Kelly, Vizor
“Our experience in sub-Saharan Africa has broadly been very positive because we find the central banks and regulators are very committed to putting in an effective system and have fewer legacy issues to deal with than some of their peers,” says Kelly.
The PIA was established in 1997 to regulate Zambia’s insurance and pensions sector and had more than 600 entities under its supervision by the end of 2012. The agency selected Vizor last year to deliver a reporting system that could be used by regulated entities to submit applications and financial statements to the PIA through a single portal.
The PIA ultimately deployed all three of Vizor’s core products – Vizor Regulatory Returns, Vizor Licensing and Regulatory Transactions, and Vizor Risk-based Supervision – to achieve its objectives. The licensing module allows new market participants to be assessed and registered, while the risk-based supervision module brings together the data that has been collected to create a comprehensive risk profile for every regulated entity, and to allow supervision activities to be properly planned and executed. The PIA project was completed in just over six months in 2017.
“Some regulators and central banks aren’t always able to perform risk-based supervision using a judgement-based approach because this requires extensive regulatory knowledge and experience within the inspection team,” Kelly tells Central Banking.
“What we are therefore beginning to develop for emerging markets is a technological framework that will support effective and consistent risk-based supervision without the need for years of experience in risk and regulation.”
Small company, big impact
For a company of just 80 staff, with its headquarters in Dublin and offices in Ottawa and Dubai, Vizor continues to punch above its weight in the official sector, sometimes stealing a march on more established and well-resourced competitors.
While being able to quickly customise technology to the needs of individual sectors and geographies is one of Vizor’s unique selling points, the vendor also recognises the pressure on costs and the need for shorter implementation cycles. It is therefore focusing its product research on out-of-the-box solutions that can be quickly implemented, including a set of risk dashboards that will show the high-level risk picture for individual industries.
“We have seen year-on-year growth of 15–20%, but our prospective client pipeline suggests this year could be even higher. We have built a dedicated innovation arm alongside our delivery arm in recent months, so that we make sure we stay on top of the latest developments and requirements, and deliver innovation quickly to the market,” says Kelly.
The Central Banking Awards were written by Christopher Jeffery, Daniel Hinge, Dan Hardie, Rachael King, Victor Mendez-Barreira, Iris Yeung, Joel Clark and Tristan Carlyle